Walter Nkanu Onnoghen was born in Okurike a small indiscript village in Cross River State. As with most people of his time, there is no record of early childhood education. He started school in 1959 at Presbyterian Primary School, Okurike and proceeded to Odorgonno Senior High School in Accra, Ghana for his secondary education in 1967. He achieve his WAEC at Accra Academy in 1974 and attended the University of Ghana at Legon graduating in 1977 and joining the Nigerian Law School in Lagos in 1978.